How to Find Your Passion in High School

girls at computer

All our lives, we’ve been told to follow our dreams. We’ve been told to do what we enjoy and dive headfirst into the pursuit of our passions.

It’s great advice – unless you have no idea where your passions lie.

Two years ago, at the start of my freshman year of high school, I had absolutely no clue what I was passionate about. As the years peeled away and high school graduation loomed closer, I started to really pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I joined all sorts of activities with my friends until I found a few that really interested me. Today, I’m passionate about computer science, journalism, and social justice – three things I didn’t know I was interested just a few years ago.

Here are four tips to I used to find my passions in high school:

rory gilmore gif

1. Recognize that grades aren’t a perfect indication of your talent or ability.

In middle school, I saw grades as benchmarks for my natural aptitudes in different fields. To me, failing a math quiz meant that I wasn’t destined to be a statistician, and messing up a biology lab meant that I would never be smart enough to be a doctor.

Even though I was interested in science and math, these tiny failures made me believe that I couldn’t handle a career in STEM. With every below-average grade I received, I began to accept my fate as Paris Hilton’s future closet organizer or a celebrity dog walker – anything that didn’t involve numbers! However, in high school I joined STEM clubs and discovered that there was an entire world of science and math different from the world of cold, hard numbers and strict rubrics. I became an expert on ecology in Science Olympiad and perfected my estimation skills as a member of the math team.

It’s important to recognize that school and grades are structured in a way that might not fully reflect your ability. You might not like a certain class, but don’t distance yourself from the entire field! It’s always important to keep an open mind.

high school musical gif

2. Join as many clubs and organizations you can in freshman year!

Freshman year is the perfect time to devote to learning about yourself outside of the world of textbooks and lectures and seize the opportunity to explore new things!

Maybe you’re the next Picasso or a 21st-century Mozart, but without trying new things in different areas, you’ll never know.

Join a variety of clubs and see what you like best! Later, as an upperclassman, you can cut down on the number of clubs you join to focus your energies on your newfound passions.

For me, I never saw myself as a person who’d be interested in politics. Capitol Hill was hundreds of miles away from me, and the closest I came to being politically informed was watching a few minutes of the local news every night. But when my friend convinced me to join her youth political activism group, I became hooked. Just coming to the meetings encouraged me to keep up with political news more, and I even got to go canvass for a local politician! Being a part of my friend’s organization really helped me discover my interest in politics, and I know that civic engagement is something I’ll feel passionately about for the rest of my life.

ariana grande thank u next gif

3. Know that your passions can (and probably will) change throughout the years.

I’ve seen too many of my friends limit themselves to what they’ve always done, retreating into their comfort zones. One of my friends has played piano her entire life, and she really enjoyed it when she was little. Now, her interest in music has waned, but she still feels that she has to keep practicing chords and scales every day.

She’s had to give up on so many other new interests like crafting and debate because of how time-consuming piano is. She’s not alone – there are so many ballerinas who stay at the ballet barre or softball players who keep coming up to the bat even as their interests have swayed.

It’s okay for your passions to change as you grow and mature over the years.

You just have to embrace this change. Don’t be afraid to escape out of your comfort zone and do something new. Don’t let the trap of familiarity consume more of your time and your happiness!

spongebob gif

4. Harness the power of the Internet to your advantage.

There’s an entire world of diverse interests and knowledge scattered throughout the pages of the Internet – don’t just confine yourself to the brick-and-mortar walls of your school! A lot of people think that extracurricular activities are restricted to just clubs that meet at school, school-sponsored sports, or local community groups, but these can be limited.

There is just so much to learn on the Internet. For instance, sites like Coursera and edX offer massive open online courses (MOOCs), free of charge. You can learn about machine learning from a Stanford professor or even learn Russian in the comfort of your own home! It’s a great opportunity to explore things beyond the scope of your textbooks and discover more of your interests.

There are even groups you can join online that help you learn what you’re passionate about! If you’re interested in volunteering with the community, visit VolunteerMatch – and maybe you’ll find a cause that you’re passionate about. If you want to try writing, you can join writing communities like Teen Ink or submit to online literary journals. The vast ocean of the Internet is your oyster – do some exploring, and perhaps you’ll find something you’re interested in!

harry potter gif

5. Don’t do something for the sake of an acceptance letter.

College is definitely important, but for many teens, college admissions loom over their everyday lives. I’ve seen so many of my peers who are consumed with the fantasy of Ivy-covered walls and prestige that they don’t stop to make time for finding their passions.

Don’t force yourself to stick to something you don’t love for the sake of college admissions. Make time for fun things and activities you’d love to try.

Time is precious, so Focus on doing what you love – and not what you think some admissions officer will.

In the end, it’ll pay off – regardless of the decision waiting in your admissions portal, you’ll come out of high school with interests and experiences you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life.

High school is tough. It’s grueling and stressful, and if your experience is anything like mine, you’ll spend a lot of sleepless nights doubting yourself. Everyone’s struggling to find their place in high school, and even after you graduate the struggle continues. However, high school is the  perfect place to discover the passions that’ll motivate you for years to come.

ALICE AO — Born and raised in metro Atlanta, Alice is a high school student still searching for her place in the world. She enjoys reading all types of literature, writing short stories, solving math problems, and watching Gilmore Girls with her mom. Above all, she hopes that her words will help mold society into a more equal, inclusive, and accepting community.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *